Cardinals boys soccer looks to continue to improve
FAIRMONT — With a large crew of returning seniors, the Fairmont Area Cardinals boys soccer team is ready to build off last year’s improvements.
“We have a very large returning team this year with 14 seniors,” Fairmont Area head coach Brady Meyer said. “These guys know this is their last chance and they’ve been working really, really hard through the offseason. They did really well during the spring season.
“These guys are really dedicated and it’s really good to see this core group of guys. They all kind of came together in eighth grade and they’ve been working together all the way up through now. They’re hungry for this season. We’re going to keep on trying to improve.”
The Cardinals didn’t win a game during their 2017 season, with many of the current returning seniors playing as sophomores.
As juniors in 2018, this year’s seniors won four games, including taking two of their final three games of the year to break a 30-game winless streak dating back to 2016.
Numerous Fairmont Area seniors return for their third varsity season and Meyer said they will be looked upon as team leaders.
Four captains will lead this year’s group of upperclassmen. Returning captains Kaleb Hoye and Daniel Brummond will keep their team-leader status. Second-year goalkeeper Tyson Geerdes and defender Ryan Hennager join Hoye and Brummond with captain armbands.
Meyer said he likes his captains to be spread across the field.
“They all have different techniques of leading, everyone can kind of grab on to one way to relate and help the team out,” Meyer said. “So for our back line, Ryan puts a good anchor there. He’ll be really vocal controlling that and making sure everyone is in the spot they need to be and calling out coverages.
“Tyson is right behind that, he sees the whole field and can be that voice for the whole team. Dan is right in front of the backs, helping out with the mids, making sure people are right where they need to be and giving everyone the encouragement they need, he does a great job with that.
“And Kaleb is actually playing some mid (field) for us this year, a little different position for him, we’re giving him the opportunity to try that out starting off. I think it’s going to be a great spot for him to help with the mids, get him some more touches and have him helping distribute as well. Those guys are kind of strategically placed throughout our formation.”
With both returning and new captains helping take control of the team, Meyer said he also has a solid coaching staff this year.
Chris Johnston is returning as both a varsity assistant and junior varsity head coach, while former player Trason Arens has come back to help out. Meyer said Arens has brought in a new way to look at practices and helping the team improve.
Meyer said having more competition-based and game-like drills is one of the ways practices have changed this year.
“Practices are going really well, I’ve been really enjoying the kids and their work ethic so far this last week,” Meyer said. “We’ve had some pretty physically demanding practices and we’re working through some muscle strain that we had to deal with during our scrimmages, but they’re in really good spirits and they know that the hard work now will pay off as the season gets going.
“We’ve tried to bring in more small-area games or small-sided games to simulate game-like situations more. … We tried to make things more game-like than we have in the past, if we need to work on one thing we try to make it more gamelike. More competitive in our practices.
“Just seeing how they’ve progressed already in this first week, I think it’s already starting to pay off.”
Fairmont Area will begin to see just how much this new way of practice has helped out quickly when the Cardinals travel to St. Peter for their opening matchup at 6:45 p.m. tonight against the host Saints.
The Cardinals return to Kot Soccer Complex for their home opener against another Big South Conference opponent in New Ulm at 7 p.m. Monday night in Fairmont.